Of the films I’ve seen, 2016 has been a basic year. There have been a few nice sleeper hits (mostly in the horror genre with The Witch and Don’t Breathe), a lot of pretty good films, but no real surprises. Animation had a great year: Kubo, Moana, Sing. The film I came into 2016 most excited about, Zootopia,  is possibly the only great film I’ve seen all year. Before I prepare to formulate my year end top ten list, I hope to cross a few of these movies off my list of films left to see.

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La La Land 94% on Rotten Tomatoes

I love musicals, but I’ve been lukewarm on any movie musicals post-Sound of Music (1965). This one is set in present day Los Angeles where to aspiring artists spark up a romance as they try not to get lost amongst the other hopeless dreamers.

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Fences 92% on Rotten Tomatoes

Powerhouse actors Denzel and Viola Davis take on a great August Wilson play about an overbearing father’s strained relationship with his family. I’m eager to see how well the material translates, as Wilson’s play seemed kind of stripped down.

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The Love Witch 95% on Rotten Tomatoes

A beautiful witch grapples with the stress of finding and keeping a good man. Billed as a  modern feminist satire with the look of ’60s camp film, this film could be a case of more interesting than good.

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Sully 86% on Rotten Tomatoes

Tom Hanks works with the great Clint Eastwood for the first time in his career, telling the story of American hero Sully Sullenberg. Eastwood scores his biggest hit at age 86, and somehow I missed it in theaters.

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Hacksaw Ridge 87% on Rotten Tomatoes

Mel Gibson’s last three directorial efforts have been Apocalypto (2006), The Passion of the Christ (2004) and Braveheart(1995); emotionally charged, muscular movies. He continues along those lines, and, based on reviews, does so with overwhelming success in relating the story of Desmond Doss, a World War II conscientious objector and hero. I’m still hoping to see the film before it leaves theaters.

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Manchester by the Sea 97% on Rotten Tomatoes

My need to see this film is based solely on its rave reviews and word of mouth. Small Indie pictures, the kind that now qualify as “Oscar Bait,” generally aren’t my thing. Casey Affleck is apparently a strong Oscar contender for his performance as an estranged brother called to take care of his newly orphaned nephew.

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The Wailing 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

Korean murder mystery about a stranger who comes to an obscure village amidst a plague. Is the stranger in the wrong place at the wrong time or is he somehow the catalyst. Available now on Netflix, it sounds like just my type of thriller.

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The Salesman 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

Iranian revenge drama about a husband’s wrath after he finds out his wife has been attacked. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, who made The Past (2013), A Separation (2011), and About Elly (2009) previously. I think he is the best filmmaker going.

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Jackie 88% on Rotten Tomatoes

Natalie Portman led biopic about our iconic first lady. Biopics tend to be by-the-numbers affairs but I love the style and mood I saw in the trailers, and critical consensus suggests the film is special.

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Nocturnal Animals 72% on Rotten Tomatoes

Stylish return to the director’s chair by fashion icon Tom Ford. Surprisingly, he’s shown he is a very strong filmmaker, and the cast of Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson have earned considerable praise.

-Walter Howard

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